In case you didn't know who he was Saturday night, Ronald "Winky" Wright was the rangy southpaw who looked like a guy trying to straddle a wide ditch. His wide-open boxing stance reminds you of someone trying to step over a deep puddle as they hurry to cross the street in a rain storm.
It was hard to figure out how Wright, the IBF champ, could keep his balance and maintain his leverage when his feet were so far apart. But he found a way to make it all work like he always has, and the forgotten stranger from St. Petersburg, Fla., rode his stance, his jab and his heart all the way to the undisputed junior-middleweight championship of the world.
He beat Sugar Shane Mosley at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas by never giving the WBA and WBC champion a chance to fight his own fight. Hell, he never gave him a chance to catch his breath. Winky looked like a guy trying to trap a chicken in the corner of the hen house.
Mosley, gracious in losing, said he just had a bad night. Wright was a big reason.
So now the world knows who Winky Wright is. It knows he's not just some pug with a funny nickname and an overblown reputation. The guy can fight, and maybe for the first time in his career, he won't be able to walk down a city street in Des Moines or Toledo without someone politely tapping him on the shoulder and asking for his autograph.
TV does that. It can make you a hero overnight, though Wright has been pounding away at his job and his craft for almost 14 years. It's just that no one was paying attention to him during most of that time. No one outside the fight game cared about who he was or what he could do or why he was doing it. He was the poster boy for obscurity, a sixty-dollar question on a radio-talk show no one ever knew the answer to: "Who or what is a Winky Wright?"
It won't be so easy to fool everyone any more. Life as Winky knew it is gone, disappeared with a 12-round win, HBO and a $750,000 purse.
If his win Saturday night showed us anything, it's that the guys who appeared to be ducking Wright - guys like Oscar De La Hoya - knew what they were doing all along.
Bob Arum of Top Rank didn't want to promote Wright versus De La Hoya because, he said, no one knows who Winky Wright is.
How do you explain De La Hoya fighting Yory Boy Campas?
Wright isn't a heavy hitter or a dancer or a cheap-shot artist. He doesn't call you names or threaten to eat your cat. He's just a tough, awkward guy to fight, one who never gets careless and who doesn't let himself get into a situation he can't get out of.
He's not pretty, but he doesn't try to be. He's just good. And now he's got one of the hotter names in the fight game.
The bottom line is, one of the best kept secrets in boxing has been let out of the bag.
The rangy southpaw from St. Pete can fight.
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